History of Florence, Park 1

 Editor’s Note: Since Florence has such a rich history, we thought we would devide this article into two parts. You can look forward to Part 2 in the May issue.
 Incorporated in 1887, Florence is a statutory city of 3,800 people located in Fremont County, Colorado. We are situated in Colorado’s “banana belt” at the base of the Rocky Mountains, alongside the banks of the Arkansas River. Florence’s unique location provides for mild winters, allows for numerous agricultural pursuits, and gives our town unique River and Mountain parks, which are accessible to the public free of charge.
 Named after the daughter of the City’s founder Senator James McCandless, Florence is known as the first place oil was discovered west of the Mississippi River and it has a rich history associated with numerous immigrants groups. Florence was home to three railroads and a small depot (used today as a senior center), providing a commercial hub for coal and oil mining activities located in the area.
 The remnants of this 1800’s commercial boom are preserved in our charming historic downtown now full of antique and retail stores, as well as an emerging culinary district. In addition to managing normal city services, Florence operates a regional water authority with surrounding coal towns and provides refuse collection services. Florence has a strong sense of community and numerous groups like the Senior Community Center, Rotary, Elks, Chamber of Commerce, Eagles, etc. run events throughout the year. Two of our most popular events are the huge Fourth of July Festival, complete with a wet-and-dry parade, and our Pioneer Day celebration in mid-September.
Florence has a fascinating and colorful history that molded the town. People came to Eastern Fremont County for its wide-open spaces for ranching and rich and fertile soil for farming, but the future town of Florence had so much more to offer.
 In 1830, a French trader known as “Maurice” established the first trading post on Adobe Creek, seven miles south of the present town in the Florence Mountain Park area.
 In 1838, a great battle was fought between the Sioux and Arapaho Indians and the settlers who hid in Maurice’s fort. A courier was sent for assistance from the local Utes and a victory was won by the settlers.
 The first American settlement on Adobe Creek was established sometime between 1840 and 1846. Those who led the company were Governor Charles Bent, L.P. Lupton, Colonel Ceran St. Vrain, Charles Beaubien, L.V. Maxwell, and John C. Fremont, who is also known as “The Pathfinder.” There is a large park and a statue commemorating Mr. Fremont just west of the town on Highway 115 at Pathfinder Park.
 The first settlement of what is now  Florence proper consisted of a few buildings in 1870. When James McCandless developed his holding and struck oil, he plotted his 160-acre farm into a townsite. He asked others, such as Edwin Lobach, to join him and donate some land to make a real town. The engineer who was hired to survey the plat became well acquainted with the three-year-old daughter of McCandless. He suggested her name,  Florence, as the name of the town. Florence was incorporated in 1887 and McCandless became the first Mayor and Postmaster. The entire McCandless family has a fascinating history, including involvement in the Presidential flag design and a Medal of Honor.
 Now a “great Little town” known for its many antique stores and fine eateries, Florence is a great place to visit and shop for all your collectible needs.

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